If you want to accomplish something in life, you need a plan! In order to have a successful future, you need a ten (10) year plan! It is not just something that comes up during an interview! Successful people plan ahead and you should too. It is one of the reasons it comes up in interviews. It is a great way to improve your performance, productivity, avoid pitfalls and solve problems. What are you doing?
It all starts with your hopes and dreams! If you do nothing about them, they will remain hopes and dreams! Just having hopes and dreams are not enough. You need to create goals and establish a plan to achieve them. I would take it a step further that it is necessary to monitor your progress and adjust your effort to achieve the tasks to eventual accomplish your goals. This entire process is commonly called planning and necessary to achieve success.
It is one of the reasons, interviewers ask where you see yourself in five (5) or ten (10) years? Your answer is a strong indicator if you are the type of person who plans your future or just let things happens. It is also another way to see how this position fits your overall plans. All candidates should be very aware of where they are going and what skills and experience they will need to acquire so they are ready for their ultimate goal. Without planning, how will you know what you need to do?
Simply setting goals is not enough! It takes time to figure out where you want to be in five (5) or ten (10) years. Where do you see yourself in the future? When I started out, I knew I wanted to be in financial management of companies, specifically Chief Financial Officer. To reach that goal, I started out in accounting, then financial planning and analysis, Controller, Director of Finance and eventually CFO. Along the way, I gained small company management that prepared me for entrepreneurship.
Planning is important to help you reach your hopes and dreams. More importantly, plans change over time and should be adjusted, changed or modified to match your new five (5) or ten (10) year plan. So far, I am focusing on your career goals, but it should not exclude your personal or life goals. I believe the entire planning process has helped me realize all of my hopes and dreams! If you never plan, you probably use a lot of excuses to describe yourself such as spontaneous or flexible.
Planning can be flexible and still not hinder your spontaneity. Would you get on a bus if you did not know where it was going? Of course not! Yet, many people fail to plan for retirement or a career. Start with the kind of outcome or result you want to achieve. If your ten (10) year plan is to own a business, you should have a plan to acquire the skills and experience necessary in order to be ready for that outcome. In school, you take classes to prepare you for college or an eventual career.
Career planning is made up of many goals. It is up to you to find out what you like to do and what you are good at. “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” (Antoine de Saint Exupery) The best time to figure out what you should do for a career is when you are in school. It usually starts with the classes you take because you find out what you like and what you are good at. For example, if you were good in science, you should explore all the careers which are in the sciences. In college, you can explore the careers and classes that those majors may help you to achieve.
Presuming you picked a major that will lead to the career of your choice; you should plan your future. You may start an entry level job, a staff position such as accountant, engineer or sales, bur aspire to be a manger. Your plan should include the skills and experience you need to achieve your next promotion and a time frame for it. Part of your plan should include objectives or milestones in order to measure your progress. How will you know if your plan is working or not?
Five (5) Steps to plan your future
- Forget luck and do the work – Very few of us spend the necessary time and effort to actually figure out their future career or anything for that matter. The non planners always have similar answers or excuses for not doing it. Medical doctors must plan because of the rigorous educational and experience requirements. There are many professions which are just as or more lucrative which means you should plan. A small business owner needs to plan their business or it will quickly go broke. If you want to start a business requires planning of capital investment, income and how you will perform the work.
- Get the skills – You need to plan your education whether it is formal, informal or self study to get the skills.Secondly, the experience you need to perform the career. You may pick a career; you will learn the skills on the job. For example, you can learn to be a chef by going to school or just learn the skills on the job. Learning the skills in school is faster, but you still need to hone your skills and perform to become a chef. Training is the basis for a good career!
- Plan B – Choices are very important! You want choices in your career, personal life and in just about everything. You will spend years to prepare to be a software engineer because you want to do something special at Google. Google does not hire you, now what? You need and want other choices in every plan. Maybe you want to get a home, but you live in San Francisco and you cannot afford one. You other choice may be a condominium.
- No plan is unchangeable – You may want multiple plans or multiple goals. If your goal and plan was to get into a Ivy League university, you probably had a few other equally good choices. A private four year university education is very expensive! Without substantial financial aid, it can easily top $200K for four years. A state university can cut the cost in half or more. There are a lot of things which require us to change our plans. Cost is just one of them!
- Monitor your progress and adjust your efforts – Simply setting a goal and developing a plan is just the start. In my planning process, I take my large goal and break it down into daily/weekly/monthly tasks to reach my goals. I constantly monitor my progress and adjust my efforts to reach my goals. Personally, I think this is the most important step in to achieve long range goals. I refer to it as the execution stage of my plan. This is the part where we either achieve the goal or not. The rest is just necessary t o get to this phase. In this stage, you should learn from your mistakes, missteps and failures. Take that information and adjust for the errors and keep going. It is only a failure when you give up!
The five (5) steps I outlined are the ones I used to achieve financial freedom and probably everything else! Use it as a template for yourself and become a planner. If you know where you are going, it is much easier to get there. You may need to replace get the skills (education/training) to whatever you need to accomplish the goal. I would refer to this area as resources necessary to achieve the goal. When you are talking about your career, you may refer to skills and experience. When buying a home, it may be money. Planning for me provides a structure to achieve goals. What is your plan?
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